Friday, August 22, 2014

New Time Zone

Well my fellow bloggers and devoted followers, the time has come—a little sooner than I thought, but here it is—the end of my time in Australia.

Why so soon some may inquire? To this question I simply say, “Because God’s plan is bigger and more intricate than I realized. His plan for me no longer includes me being in Australia.”

It’s the truth too. I have made the dreaded 13-hour flight across the ocean into LAX and waited another 2 hours before making the final leg of the trip into Salt Lake City, where I walked like a hung over zombie into the excited arms of my family. All this was supposed to happen, but not until December—at least in my plan that is.  However, a loving Heavenly Father took over my life and watched me suffer with back pain in Australia. True He sustained me as long as I needed it, but it came to the point where the pain in my back was far too great for me to even leave the house. Then like the loving father that He is, God gave me a solution.

(my work place-where I invited others to learn about Christ)

I got the call from Sister Henderson on a Monday morning while I was lying in bed studying Chinese. My companion, Sister Ng handed me the phone, requesting I put it on speaker. As Sister Henderson talked to me and told me I had a decision to make—whether to endure the pain and risk it getting worse, or go home to family doctors—my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest by some unseen force. Why couldn’t they just tell me what to do? Why did I have to make the decision?

Never in my life have I prayed so sincerely and so direct. Even on days when I thought I couldn’t take one more step because the pain was so severe, did I pray as hard as I prayed after I hung up the phone with Sister Henderson. With tear stained cheeks, I got down on my knees and I pleaded with Heavenly Father to be able to stay in Australia until December. I just knew it was a righteous desire, and so obviously that’s what God would help me fulfill. I am now a living witness of Dallin H. Oak’s  “good, better, best” talk. As I prayed and fasted throughout the day I came to realize my righteous desire was “good” but it was not what was “best” for me, nor for the life my Heavenly Father has in store for me.

As I pondered and re-pondered the idea of staying in Australia, a huge headache came upon me, and I felt farther and farther away from the Holy Spirit. I kicked my gear up a notch and read my scriptures and then I decided I should reread my study journal. I flipped back a couple of pages and started to read. Nothing seemed to stand out to me. Beginning to get discouraged that the answer I needed by the following day was nowhere in sight, I read more frantically. Finally, I came upon the journal entry the day I went to the back surgeon. Among my many insights from reading the Book of Mormon, was a random line of revelation, which read, “You will go home early. The Lord will take care of you.” Short simple and clear. I had had my answer all along.
Not wanting to make a mistake on the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make I asked Sister Ng if she would pray with me to see if this was the right decision. As we knelt together in prayer, my headache dissipated and peace that Sister Ng and I hadn’t felt before settled into our tiny apartment like the warmth and comfort of a cherished childhood blanket. We had our answer. Now I just had to press forward.

With all the love and support of President and Sister Henderson, we prepared for my departure. I left with a large group of honorable missionaries, and I was part of the group. I served the Lord with all my “heart, might, mind and strength” as it says in D&C 4. I followed promptings to talk to people and invite them to accept Christ into their lives, and I followed the prompting to go home.

No longer am I in my beloved Australia. I am in a new time zone now. I am high up in the Utah Mountains. I am going to doctors twice a week and seeing improvements with my back.  There are moments when my heart aches to be back in Australia teaching the beautiful Chinese people I’ve come to love so very, very much. Moments pass by when I wonder what in the world was I thinking, but then I kneel down on my knees and again I plead with Heavenly Father to comfort my soul. Do I know exactly why I am home right now? No, I have many guesses, but the answer is not yet completely formed. I live day to day, just as I did in Australia, doing my best to love the new faces around me, while keeping the faces of Australia tattooed on my heart.

I loved being a full-time missionary. It has been the best 14 months of my life thus far. I am on a new mission now to live life to it’s fullest by following in the footsteps of my Savior Jesus Christ. The path I have chosen is not popular, but as Robert Frost wrote, “I doubted if ever I should turn back.”

(For them my love can't be put into words)